22 November 2014

Friend of Alan Henning says Muslim hate crime surge is fault of media and politicians

.... She told MM: “Irresponsible journalism, mainly tabloid sensationalism around a minority of extreme individuals seems to have become the focus of the mainstream media spotlight in recent months that unfortunately all Muslims are tarnished with and inevitably bear the brunt of.”

“This gradual but constant negative media focus serves to exacerbate the issues through groups such as the Far Right who feel justified in vilifying all things Islamic because the media in a sense legitimises and reinforces their stereotyping. [Mancunian Matters] Read more

Within a Muslim bubble

Laylah Hussain, in the Times, recalls her time in an Islamic school near Nottingham, where she was sent aged 11:

"[M]y mother sought to protect me from the secular culture she thought could ruin my education and prospects. She is a deeply spiritual woman and wanted me to have an Islamic education, not based upon her own adaptable, tolerant South Asian faith but on the literalist Saudi Arabian Salafism she saw preached on Islamic TV channels, which presents itself as “pure”.

.... A brave and important article. "I cannot understand why the British government allows girls of 11 to be put into schools that set them on a course of separation from mainstream society, to live according to Sharia principles, which can discriminate against them in divorce, inheritance and legal testimony." Me neither.

It's understandable, if perhaps disappointing, that Layla Hussein is in fact a pseudonym. [Mick Hartley] Read more

Kenya bus attack: Al-Shabaab militants kill 28 non-Muslims who failed to recite Koran

Terror organisation al-Shabaab have claimed an attack that killed 28 people on a bus in Northern Kenya.

Around 100 gunmen, who are believed to have travelled over the border in Mandera county from Somalia, took the bus off the road before separating the passengers.

It is believed they asked travellers to recite passages from the Koran, shooting dead those who were unable to prove they were practising Muslims.

A statement on a website linked to the extremist organisation said the attack was carried out in retaliation for security raids on mosques in the coastal city of Mombassa earlier this week. [The Independent] Read more

21 November 2014

The Ofsted report about my former school is way off the mark

I left the Jamiatul Ummah school in 2011. When I saw the headlines saying that my former school and other independent Muslim faith schools in Tower Hamlets were vulnerable to “extremist influences and radicalisation”, my first thought was that Ofsted couldn’t be more off the mark .

[TOP RATED COMMENT 230 votes] 5 buggers heading off to fight for ISIS a week, mainly young men recently out of education. Something needs to be done and looking at extremism in schools is a start.

[SECOND 207v] I make no apologies for being one of the many people who say this again and again but faith schools (of any description) should not exist.

[THIRD 200v] Harun is telling us how great his school was and that he learned a lot, but from his story I see that he was taught only Islamic theology apart from the required curriculum. I think his story proves the point of Ofsted. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Turkey to open mosques 'in every university'

Turkey's top religious body said on Friday that there are plans to build a mosque in every state university, adding to concerns over what critics say are creeping efforts to force Islamic values on the society.

"Mosques are under construction in over 80 universities. Fifteen of them have been opened for prayers and we will open at least 50 more in 2015," said Mehmet Gormez, the head of Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate, known as Diyanet in Turkish.

"There are 20 million young people in our country and we would like to reach out to each one of them," he told the official Anatolia news agency. [AFP] Read more

Muslim Pupils Confused Over Sharia And UK Law

Ofsted inspectors found that pupils at a private London Muslim school were not able to tell the difference between Sharia law and English law.

Inspectors concluded that young people at Mazahirul Uloom School in Tower Hamlets were being taught a narrow curriculum regularly focusing only on the Islamic faith and culture.

Many pupils told Ofsted that learning about other religions was wrong.

Some pupils told the watchdog that it was a woman's job to "stay at home and clean and look after the children", while others, when talking about Sharia law and English law, were unable to say which laws they should follow and which were more important. [Sky News] Read more

‘We need child safeguard powers’ over Islamic links, Tower Hamlets urges

Tower Hamlets’ education director Robert McCulloch-Graham has admitted to the East London Advertiser that Sir John Cass, which comes under Town Hall control, was “not robust enough” in tackling concerns about safeguarding pupils after the school’s sixthform Islamic Society was found to have Facebook links with extremist preachers.

The authority has now drawn up an action plan with the school’s award-winning head teacher Haydn Evans to improve safeguarding.

But the authority has little powers over the six privately-run Muslim faith schools in the East End that have also been inspected by Ofted over the ‘fundamentalist links’ issue.

A Town Hall spokesman said: “We have no jurisdiction whatsoever as a local education authority over teaching and standards at independent faith schools. [East London Advertiser] Read more

'Radicalisation risk' at six Muslim private schools, says Ofsted

Sir Michael Wilshaw said the pupils' "physical and educational welfare is at serious risk" following a series of emergency inspections.

He said all the schools focused too heavily on Islamic teachings.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan says the schools will be closed down if changes are not made quickly.

She said: "We asked Ofsted to carry out these independent school inspections and the findings are very concerning. While there is no suggestion of a co-ordinated plot, it is clear that these schools are failing children and this is unacceptable.

"All schools must prepare children for life in modern Britain."

At one school, inspectors found pupils did not know the difference between sharia and British law.

And they said the curriculum at Mazahirul Uloom School in Tower Hamlets "focused solely" on Islamic themes. [BBC] Read more

20 November 2014

Austrian bill would ban foreign funding for mosques, imams

Austria’s Muslim community is incensed over the government’s plans to amend the country’s century-old law on Islam.

The new bill, championed by Minister for Foreign Affairs and Integration Sebastian Kurz, forbids foreign funding of mosque construction or of imams working in the country and requires a unified German-language translation of the Quran.

The government argues the legislation, which Parliament will vote on this month, will help combat Islamic radicalism. Muslim groups and civic activists say it flouts the principle of equality. [Religion News] Read more

Muslim ‘apostates come out of hiding’

A number of Muslims in Europe are publicly abandoning their religion to become Christians or agnostics despite their former community's taboo against such acts.

In France, the film “The Apostle” by filmmaker Cheyenne Carron has meanwhile lifted the veil on “apostasy” by telling the story of a young Muslim who converted to Catholicism and how he had trouble getting family and friends to accept his choice.

“It is time for us to stop hiding,” said Pastor Said Oujibou, 46, who left radical Islam for evangelical protestantism and who is among the few converts to have publicised his decision in France. [Independent Online] Read more

Switzerland Highights Europe's Huge Immigration Problem

.... Perhaps even more damaging, vigilantism has increased. Italy has seen incidents where neo-Nazi groups have attacked foreign shopkeepers, shouting "get out bastard foreigners," even in Rome's trendy Rigneto district.

Anti-Muslim websites have proliferated, one of which, Gates of Vienna, sells a cap with the motto in the language of one's choice, "Islamophobe and Proud of It." A prominent German feminist, Alice Schwarzer, has concluded that immigrant Islamic influences "probably and unfortunately can no longer be stopped with only democratic means." [The Huffington Post] Read more

19 November 2014

Schools accused of failing to protect children from extremism

An outstanding state secondary school and a group of independent Muslim faith schools in London’s east end are to be criticised for safeguarding failures and branded as inadequate after Ofsted inspectors raised a string of concerns over protecting pupils from extremism, the Guardian has learned.

Among the issues highlighted were sixth formers at one school posting links to Islamist extremist matter via a Facebook page claiming to be associated with the school, and separate entrances for boys and girls at the same school.

[TOP RATED COMMENT 411 votes] Why is it not illegal to have sex segregation in public places? If there was a "main entrance" and a "black persons entrance" on anything it would be an outrage, sex discrimination should be the same.

[ANOTHER 394v] Education should be secular. Every faith is prejudiced against all other faiths and atheism and yet we allow that prejudice to continue unchallenged simply because it is faith. The best way to eradicate the prejudice is to remove the source from public life.

[ANOTHER 314v] Faith schools need to be abolished, end of. They have no place in modern society.

[ANOTHER 232v] Tower Hamlets is a suburb of Riyadh isn't it? God, what a mess you Brits have created for yourselves.

[ANOTHER 240v] Yup. Welcome to the results of fourty years of multiculturalism, a pernicious, self defeating and destructive ideology which encourages the separation of communities who know little of each other and have massively different beliefs and standards. [The Guardian] Read more

Vienna's Muslims 'to double in 30 years'

A study by the Vienna-based WIREL project showed that in 30 years time only one third of the capital will be Catholic and the proportion of Muslims will almost double to 21 percent.

Researchers estimate that Vienna is currently around 41 percent Catholic, four percent Protestant, nine percent Orthodox (mainly Serbian), 12 percent Muslim and 0.5 percent Jewish. Three percent are other religions and 30 percent are atheist or agnostic.

Ramon Bauer from the WIREL project said that since the 1970s Viennese people have been leaving the Catholic church and increased migration has contributed to an increase in Orthodox Christians and Muslims. [The Local] Read more

Queen Rania denounces religious fanatics

.... Personal status law in Jordan is dealt with by two types of court: sharia-based courts for Muslims and others for those of recognised non-Muslim religions. Defectors from Islam can be taken to the sharia courts (by relatives or others) and stripped of important rights – in effect being punished with "civil death":

.... "The court stated that he no longer had any inheritance rights and that he could not remarry his wife unless he returned to Islam. He was also forbidden from being considered an adherent of any other religion.

The verdict also implied the possibility that legal and physical custody of his child could be assigned to someone else. The convert has since left Jordan, received refugee status, and resettled in another country.

.... Maybe Queen Rania should have a word with her husband about this. If she is serious about "reclaiming the narrative" she should make sure that Jordan sets a good example for other countries. [al-bab.com] Read more

Top London CofE school 'failed to safeguard pupils from Islamic extremism'

Sir John Cass’s Foundation and Red Coat Church of England school in Tower Hamlets, east London, will be placed in special measures by the education standards watchdog Ofsted for failing to monitor the activities of an Islamic society set up by sixth-formers at the school.

In particular, a Facebook site set up by the society contained links to hard-line Islamist preachers – a move which could have made pupils vulnerable to radicalisation. The society also set up its own YouTube channel which was not monitored.

According to Ofsted, that constituted a failure to safeguard the pupils – a breach for which it had to be placed in special measures. It is the first school outside of Birmingham to be failed on such a safeguarding issue. [The Independent] Read more

18 November 2014

Christians and Muslims have co-existed peacefully before and must do so again

.... For centuries the two faith communities have managed to co-exist peacefully in almost all countries in the Middle East and elsewhere. Islam has recognised Christianity as a sister Abrahamic faith.

Places of worship have been respected, freedom of worship accorded and lives and property protected. The oldest known Christian community that speaks the language Jesus allegedly spoke has co-existed with Muslim neighbours until the recent troubles.

[TOP RATED COMMENT 326 votes] What if a Muslim wanted to leave Islam and join Christianity?

[ANOTHER 298v] That's La La Land stuff. Cherry picking.

The basic fact is that even with discussing the relationships between Islam and all other religions on this planet, Islam generates poor violent and unjust societies.

The only solution barring other religions leaving the planet or conversely, Muslims leaving Earth, is for reform of Islam. (Gasp).

[ANOTHER 269v] Indeed. And does this co-existence allow Muslim women to marry non Muslims?

[ANOTHER 239v] No doubt you will get a sympathetic hearing from the CofE when you address them. I dare you to go in person with the same message to ISIS and see what your fellow Muslims think

[ANOTHER 225v] Jews also lived well in Moslem countries as long as they follow the Dhimmi statutes with only a few pogroms etc. Now I suggest that the readers look up those statutes and see if you are willing to live under such rules! [Guardian Cif] Read more

Slavery in Islam

THE holy book is clear about what to do when you capture a city: “Put to the sword all the men in it”. As for the women and children, “You may take these as plunder for yourselves.”

This is pretty much the advice that the fighters of Islamic State (IS) seem to have followed in the Sinjar area of northern Iraq, peopled largely by members of the Yazidi faith, that the jihadists seized last month.

Reports by the UN and independent human-rights groups suggest that the invaders executed hundreds of Yazidi men and kidnapped as many as 2,000 women and children. [The Economist] Read more

17 November 2014

The Guardian view on Rowan Williams and the veil: democracy can’t always be simple

In an interview, Williams said that when a child learns language, it also learns about gesture, facial expression and coding and decoding, in order to interact with the other speaker. “We all know what happens when people don’t learn that,” he went on, “when they speak without a sense of the codes that are operating – the tone, the timbre, etc. I suppose that’s what panics people about, let’s say, a primary school teacher wearing the face veil.”

This was reported as: “Let Muslim primary school teachers wear full-face veil in class, says former archbishop of Canterbury.”

[TOP RATED COMMENT] Why have you deliberately failed to quote the rest of what Rowan Williams said? Is it because it than makes this a poor example to choose for your opinion piece?:

"“I suppose that’s what panics people about, let’s say, a primary school teacher wearing the face veil.

“As a matter of fact I think that’s largely a misplaced anxiety, but I can see where it comes from.

“I’ve actually been in public discussions in Pakistan with women wearing full face veil, and you learn to read differently, it’s not that those codes don’t happen … but there’s a cultural obstacle to overcome.”

This is why quite rightly the media reported that Rowan Williams thought that the worries about the face veil in the classroom were "misplaced".

[ANOTHER] Don't know about everyone else but if it had been me in primary school I'd have been scared s*****s by a teacher walking around in a niquab.

[ANOTHER] A Saudi cleric has called for babies to be put in burquas to help prevent children being abused. .... and in the UK, Imams offer to marry girls as young as nine. There is a definite problem in the Islamic world and it has been imported into the UK. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Jihad Is Fine? So Says 80 Percent of Holland’s Young Turkish Muslims

Is the Netherlands becoming a netherworld of Islamic extremism? If a new poll can be believed, this very well may be the case.

The research, conducted by the Motivaction group in Amsterdam, concerns the attitude of Dutch Turks between the ages of 18 and 34 about the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) and found that “80% saw nothing wrong in jihad, or holy war, against non-believers,” writes DutchNews.nl.

The website also reports, “The survey found 90% of young Turks think those fighting against Syrian president Assad’s troops are ‘heroes’ and half thought it would be a good thing if Dutch Muslims went to join the fight.”

The reaction by Dutch politicians has been swift and unsure. During a Wednesday debate on integration, Dutch members of parliament (MPs) “from across the political spectrum,” writes Dutch News, “called for more research … to investigate why youths have such radical views.” [The New American] Read more

More than 50 British Muslim charities on watch list over fears they could be linked to extremism and radicalisation

.... The figures were revealed in a request under the Freedom of Information Act by think tank Claystone, which works to promote social cohesion for British Muslims.

It says the new issue code was introduced in December 2012, three months after Sir William Shawcross was appointed as chairman of the Commission that September.

The following year, Sir William brought in a new board, including former Metropolitan Police counter terrorism chief Peter Clarke, and he has described the cause of Islamic extremism as the 'most deadly' faced by the charity sector.

'The Commission has labelled 55 charities with the issue code "extremism and radicalisation" without their knowledge,' writes Claystone's Adam Belaon in his report, 'Muslim Charities: A Suspect Sector'. [Daily Mail] Read more

16 November 2014

Bangladesh professor 'hacked to death' by suspected militants

Suspected Islamic militants have hacked to death a university professor in western Bangladesh, several years after he led a push to ban students wearing full-face veils, police said Sunday.

Police have arrested at least 20 people for questioning over the murder near Rajshahi University in the west of the Muslim-majority country where the victim was a professor of sociology, a senior officer said.

The victim, Shafiul Islam, followed the folk sect Baul, popular in parts of western Bangladesh, whose members call themselves followers of humanism rather than a particular religion. [Daily Mail] Read more

Quarter of Charity Commission inquiries target Muslim groups

More than a quarter of the statutory investigations that have been launched by the Charity Commission since April 2012 and remain open have targeted Muslim organisations, an analysis by the Guardian can reveal – drawing criticism from Islamic groups that they are being unfairly singled out.

Responses to freedom of information requests show that more than 20 of the 76 live investigations focus on Muslim charities associated with running mosques, providing humanitarian relief and, in a number of high-profile cases, aid efforts in Syria. [The Guardian] Read more

15 November 2014

Wake up and oppose theocracy: Bill Maher, Rula Jebreal and the urgent Islam debate

.... Did Jebreal really think she would help her cause by chastising Maher for speaking his mind and thereby reminding us of the intolerance that has so frequently characterized Islam? (To wit: the longstanding Muslim-led campaign to make blasphemy against Islam an international crime.) The rush among Muslims to condemn their faith’s critics discloses a valid underlying fear — that possibly those critics are onto something, that maybe the religious beliefs in question are untrue and even ridiculous.

.... One thing is certain: You know you enjoy true freedom of speech when you can mock religion without fear of violence, persecution or ostracism. If, though, you deride faith and you suffer any of these ills, you know the Spirit of Medieval Darkness is still out and about.

What Jebreal, Aslan and others trying to stifle free speech about Islam need to know is this: With or without their permission, we nonbelievers will exercise our right to express our opinions about faith, even if we — gasp! — cause offense.

They had better get used to this. There is more on the way. [SALON] Read more

Muslims found Americas before Columbus says Turkey's Erdogan

Muslims discovered the Americas more than three centuries before Christopher Columbus, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said.

He made the claim during a conference of Latin American Muslim leaders in Istanbul, pointing to a diary entry in which Columbus mentioned a mosque on a hill in Cuba.

Mr Erdogan also said "Muslim sailors arrived in America in 1178".

He said he was willing to build a mosque at the site Columbus identified.

The Turkish president - whose AK Party is rooted in political Islam - gave no further evidence to back up his theory, instead stating: "Contacts between Latin America and Islam date back to the 12th Century." [BBC] Read more

Welcome to Hotel Sharia: No more bacon or booze as trendy venue bought out by a Muslim multi-millionaire

An exclusive hotel has banned alcohol and pork after being taken over by a Middle Eastern businessman who wants to run it ‘in accordance with Sharia law’.

The strict Islamic policy was imposed without warning this week at London’s Bermondsey Square Hotel – where the bar and grill was previously run by Masterchef judge Gregg Wallace.

Staff said the new rules were swiftly implemented on Tuesday on the orders of the new Muslim owner, forcing waiters to tell disgruntled guests that much of the menu was no longer available. [Daily Mail] Read more